Maryland Man Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison For Sex Trafficking and Firearms Charges
WASHINGTON — Terrell Armstead, 31, formerly of Baltimore, Maryland, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion and a related firearms offense.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Armstead was found guilty in March 2020, following a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. In a related case, he pleaded guilty in September 2019 to conspiracy to resell firearms illegally, and to unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The Honorable Amit P. Mehta sentenced Armstead to 23 years in prison on the sex trafficking charge, and sentenced him to a concurrent 10-year prison term on the firearms charges. Following his prison term, Armstead will be placed on 20 years of supervised release. Armstead was also ordered to pay $28,644 in victim restitution.
A second defendant, Anthony Gray, pleaded guilty in January 2022 to one count of transportation of minors, related to his activities with Armstead. Gray, 39 of Cheverly, Maryland, was sentenced on July 13, 2022, to 10 years in prison for his role in the crimes. He was also sentenced to 10 years of supervised release following his prison term and ordered to pay $15,000 in victim restitution.
According to evidence presented at trial, from March 2015 until September 2019, in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and elsewhere, Armstead trafficked several young women for commercial sex, including one who was only 16 years old. He was found guilty of a charge involving an adult woman. He used social media to lure this victim across the country based on false promises of fantastic success and financial comfort and security. Instead, after three months of being forced to work in Armstead’s commercial sex enterprise for his profit, she left the Washington, D.C. area with nothing.
Armstead operated his enterprise by recruiting young women as commercial sex workers, then advertising them in online forums (like Backpage.com), having them work in strip clubs to meet “customers,” and coercing them to engage in commercial sex on “the blade,” the track in downtown Washington, D.C. Armstead promoted himself on social media, purporting to live a life of luxury with the money he took from the women in his commercial sex enterprise. He controlled and manipulated the victims, including by threats of force; brandishing various weapons, including large automatic weapons; taking and controlling all the proceeds from their commercial sex work; limiting their contact with friends and family, such as smashing a cellphone; and by controlling their access to transportation and even their own identification documents.
During the course of the investigation into Armstead’s activities, law enforcement determined that Gray joined Armstead in bringing victims to hotels in Alexandria, Virginia and Lusby, Maryland in March 2015, for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex. On one of these occasions, Gray took pictures of two of the victims and then posted these pictures as advertisements online, offering them for commercial sex. Gray determined who the clients could be and the prices that could be charged.
This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Graves, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Chief Contee commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI and MPD. They also expressed appreciation for the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Justice Department, including Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant, the Witness Security Section of the Victim/Witness Assistance Unit, and former Paralegal Specialist Kenny Nguyen.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy E. Larson and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenya Davis, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney Elizabeth Hutson of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.